Transcript

I have an MSI GS60 gaming laptop

I bought it in Australia back in 2015

I wrote this blog post about how I installed Linux on it

It was my only laptop, for about eleven months while I was backpacking

When I got off the road I turned it back into a Windows laptop for gaming and photo editing

It has three hard drives in it

two of them are 128GB M.2 solid state drives

The laptop came with them placed together in RAID 0

So you get 256GB of striped storage

The other hard drive is just a spinning 1 terabyte drive

And although it’s three years old at this point, it’s still a pretty decent gaming laptop

It doesn’t have a lot of storage though

So I was getting to the point where I was having to chose which games to uninstall in order to free up space on the solid state drives

So I purchased these two 500GB M.2 drives

They’re the older mSATA drives

Now getting to the hard drives is not easy

Most of the tear down websites I looked at rated the difficulty pretty high

The entire motherboard had to be removed because both the M.2 drives and the system ram as well, sit on top of the motherboard

This is really annoying

I wish MSI had designed these to be accessible from the bottom

Some of their laptops do have these accessible from the bottom

But I guess you have to make these kids of trade-offs when you have a really thin form factor

Another issue I ran into

I had used the wrong screw driver and had stripped both of the M.2 screwed

These two screws are kind of delicate

I tried the rubber band trick

I couldn’t find my roommates needle nose pliers, so I used this really small vice grip

and it worked, but on one of the drives I accidentally ripped off two of these resistors

Now, I hadn’t made a backup before starting this like I should have

And that’s because the drives are in RAID 0 using Intel Rapid Store

And my plan was to use these M.2 SATA to USB converters to copy the old RAID volumes onto the new drives

Then I’d boot into Windows, install the Intel Rapid Store management tools and see if I could resize the RAID volumes

Now when imaging the old hard drives to the new ones, I noticed only one of them had a valid windows partition and the other just had this RAID volume label at the top

I was really afraid I might killed my ability to pull data from the drive, due to damaging those resistors

When I installed the new hard drives, in the RAID section of the UEFI setup, the drives weren’t even recognized as a RAID volume

I ended up putting the old drives back in the board, and they did boot up

I was able to make a backup of the drive, so I guess those resistors don’t affect data transfer

And I also discovered you can’t just copy an Intel RAID Rapid Store volume to a larger capacity disk

They probably have headers in them with specific information that’s tied to the machine or the size of the disk

I didn’t look into it too much

I just ended up initializing the new 500GB drives as if they were a brand new RAID partition

And then try to restore my backup onto this drive

Or at least I tried

One interesting thing I learned about the Windows 10 installation media is that it cannot unlock an encrypted disk using a password

I actually had to install the old hard disks again, boot up Windows 10 and run the following command to get the numeric key for my Bitlocker disk via my password

And then I just have to type in this key in the installation phase to unlock the disk with the backup image on it

At this point you’d think it’d be smooth sailing, but my Windows system images would not restore

It turns out Microsoft is deprecating their built-in backup tool and encouraging people to switch to 3rd party solutions

So from what I can tell from knowledge base articles, system restore broke entirely sometime in late 2017 or 2018 and Microsoft refused to fix it

Instead, I tried using a copy of AOMEI, a dodgy looking system imaging tool

It really bothers me that the built in system backup and restore tool that’s been a part of the operating system since Windows 7, is now broken and being removed, without any replacement

In the Linux world, I can a copy partition using dd

I can start and setup RAID using mdadm

I can use cryptsetup to both unlock, create and expand encrypted volumes

I can use resize2fs, to expand the ext4 partition

I can do all of this from the command line

If anything breaks along the way

I can usually figure it out

Where on Windows I just get this useless message

And a lot of, worse than useless Microsoft knowledge base answers

I mean, I’m not a kid anymore

This isn’t 1995

We shouldn’t have to reinstall our operating systems, once a semester

Like we did in University

This Gentoo image, I started building it in 2012

And I just copy it new devices

I haven’t done a new Gentoo install, in years

Anyway, so I used AOMEI to make a backup image and just to make it easier, I put it on an unencrypted solid state drive

I also used AOMEI to create a Windows Preinstall Environment Image

I had to download the RAID driver from Intel’s website and add it to the PE image

You’ll want this second link that just contains a zip file with the INF and driver files

After that, I was able to restore the backup image

After that I was able to boot into Windows and use the Disk Manager to expand the NTFS volume

Now this was a lot of work

I ended up taking apart and putting together this lap top at least eight times during the troubleshooting

And I still had to pull the back off again two days later when my replacement battery arrived

The old one hasn’t worked in a while

It doesn’t hold a charge

and you can see, in this shot, you can kinda see that the battery is actually swelling

Probably isn’t a good sign

It’s three years old, and a lot of people would most likely just sell it on eBay and buy a new one, instead of trying to upgrade these drives

But it’s still a solid laptop

It’s got a 970M video card in it

It can drive this UHD monitor and play most current titles in 1080p with pretty decent graphics

I can even play some older titles in UHD

I’m more of a casual gamer anyway

I use Windows mostly for photo and video editing

If I had gotten the WS60 instead of the GS60, it had a Thunderbolt port

And that could have helped expand the life of this laptop even more by having the option of an external graphic card or even high speed external SSD connectors

So I wouldn’t need to open the entire laptop just to get some more solid state storage

But for my use cases, this laptop still works really well

And hopefully adding some SSD capacity will keep it running smoothly as my Windows laptop for some time to come

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